Religious diversity in America part 1 & 2 2 - 2016
These are the two parts of the lecture on religion. It covers the topics of religious freedom and religious diversityin America : Protestantism and catholicism, as well as the non christian faiths with a specific focus on Judaism and Islam.
No Official Religion
• The Constitution prohibits the
establishment of a national religion and
protects citizens’ right to choose their own
• The separation between Church and State
prevents the government from favoring one
religion or denomination at the expense of
Religious freedom is guaranteed.
• Apart from the Roman Catholic & the
Episcopalian churches, American churches
have no central authority.
• No church hierarchy for Protestants
• Church members organize in an assembly
and choose their own minister.
• Churches of first settlers split into
denominations resulting in many types of
• Religious diversity made possible by history
and size of the country : if one group
dissented or was the victim of religious
intolerance, it simply moved elsewhere and
founded its own church.
• Protestantism, Catholicism,
Judaism, Islam, Buddhism,
(1,500 religious affiliations)
The American paradox:
‘neutral’ State, but religious Nation
• Separation of State and Religion
• American society filled with religion &
Americans constantly mention God.
• The Pilgrim Fathers had a mission: create a
model society, in America considered as the
new Promised Land.
Replica of the Mayflower
Puritans landing, 1620
• Americans see themselves as the Elect,
chosen by God to create a unique model of
society, based on a high moral code, austere,
work ethic, predestination.
• The Influence of religion is visible
“In God We Trust” is engraved
on American currency
Each American President swears his
Oath of Office on the Bible
Religion is often a stepping stone to political careers
many of whom were preachers:
M L King Jr & Malcom X
1962, compulsory prayer in public schools forbidden
Prayer used to be compulsory in school
until the School Prayer decision in 1962.
Religion, Class and Race
• Religious diversity highlights social and racial
• Blacks and whites attend different churches.
• Among protestants, Episcopalians are regarded
as the “élite” denomination, while Baptists and
Methodists less wealthy.
• Roman Catholics were working class (low-
income Irish members).
• Now Mainstream Churches middle or upper
• More radical churches appeal to the poor.
• 2% of American population.
• First Jews came from Spain and Portugal,
then from Eastern Europe: Russia, Ukraine,
Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Austria
• Most Jewish immigration to the United States
occurred from 1890-1924. The primary
reason for Jews immigrating to the US was for
• Were subject to discrimination and to hate
• Jewish immigrants took great pride in
• They wanted their children to have better
jobs than their parents had when they came
to the US.
• Most took advantage of the education
system to climb up the social ladder.
• integrated well to their Wasp counterparts
• About 50% marry with non-Jews.
• American Jews play influential political and
cultural role through their organizations.
Profile of American Jews
Jews General average
Jobs in management,
Average Household income $50,000 $42,000
Jews and the Media
• Seven Jewish Americans Control Most US
• They namely control ABC, NBC, CBS, the
Turner Broadcasting System, CNN, MTV,
Universal Studios, MCA Records Universal
70% attached to Israel
57% never been to Israel
44% building settlements
hurts Israel’s security
40% believe god gave
Israel to Jewish people
Today, the survival of Israel is one of their major
They raise about 300M $ annually to support
than 1% of the
Islam is the
Islam in America
ISLAM IN THE UNITED STATES
•Most Muslims immigrants
from Muslim countries.
•24% of African Americans
converted to Islam from
Christianity. Many slaves
originally from Muslim
•Appeal of Islam for
African-Americans is part
of a quest for their lost
US Department of State 2014
Facts about Islam
• They're better educated than most
• U.S. Muslims have the second-highest level of
education among major religious groups in the
country; Jews have the highest.
• And a greater proportion of them have college
degrees than the general U.S. population.
• They have more gender equality
• 90% agree that women should be able to work
outside the home.
• American Muslim women hold more college
or postgraduate degrees than Muslim men.
• More likely to work in professional fields than
women from most other U.S. religious groups.
• They've been here since the birth of the nation ..
• When Columbus made his journey to the US, it is
said he took with him a book written by
Portuguese Muslims who had navigated their way
to the New World in the 12th century.
• Others claim Muslims, most notably a man
named Istafan, accompanied the Spanish as guide
to the New World in the early 16th century.
• About a quarter to a third of the Africans brought
to the United States as slaves were Muslims.
Most were then forced to convert to Christianity.
Patterns of settlement
• .. and they're not just clustered in big cities
• American Muslims live in cities big and small
all across the United States. The first mosque
built in America was in Ross, North Dakota,
back in 1929.
• They're as religious as Christians ...
• Most Muslims are very religious.
• About half say they attend the weekly Friday
• But that makes them similar to Christians:
About 70% of Christians say religion is
important in their lives, and about 45% go to a
Image of Islam & Muslims
• Islam suffers from a poor image in the United
States further reinforced by the Word Trade
Center bombing in 1993 and the September 11th
attacks of the Twin Towers.
• Hate crimes against Muslims and South East
Asians such as the Sikhs (mistakenly) went up in
the months that followed 9/11.
• Often associated with terrorism, fanaticism and
anti-Semitism, Islam is widely misunderstood and
considered by many Americans with distrust.
when a mosque is
vandalized, or a kid
doesn’t make us
safer. It diminishes
us in the eyes of
the world. And it
betrays who we are
as a country.